Dan Milligan lost his job 14 years ago and soon after decided he would buy his next job after realizing the job market wasn’t giving him any options. He bought the Trade Lake Store in May 2007 and said business, like the area in general, has been up and down throughout the years.
Milligan told the Sentinel the store has good times and bad times.
“The key is to have money for when the bad times hit,” he remarked. He was getting ready for the weekend when he spoke to the Sentinel.
“Opening (deer rifle) weekend used to be a lot bigger for us. It would really help us getting ready for the winter,” Milligan said. “It used to be just two weeks that were really tough in the winter and now it’s more like a whole month.”
The Trade Lake is one of many locally owned businesses in Burnett County that depend on local support to keep the doors open. It sits at a main intersection where Highway 48 meets County Road M and Town Hall Road in Trade Lake. A quiet intersection with an important business.
Millions of Americans enjoy their Thanksgiving dinner and then move onto the Christmas and Holiday season. This usually begins with Black Friday, where big box stores open their doors early in the morning the day after Thanksgiving and have deals that only come around once a year.
In the last few years a new shopping craze has begun called Small Business Saturday. The event encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local.
There is also cyber-Monday that brings a number of online-only deals that spread across the Internet.
Milligan works long hours at the store and on the weekends his wife, Judy, helps out around the store. She is from Grantsburg and Dan is from St. Paul but has been visiting the area since the mid 1970s. He really enjoys what he calls the Trade Lake neighborhood.
He mostly sells convenience items at the store like bread and milk. His top sellers during the summer months are fishing gear like bait and tackle and come ice cream.
“I’m not complaining about it because I know people around here don’t have a ton of money,” Milligan said. “It would be really helpful if people would stop in once a week and buy something. It would go a long way to help.”